Carnival Ecstacy-Professional Review


Professional Review for Carnival Ecstasy

StateroomLike the company’s seven other Fantasy-class ships, the Carnival Ecstasy is part of the “Evolutions of Fun” ship refurbishment program. All Fantasy-class ships have undergone numerous upgrades, including: expansions to the children’s waterparks; new designs and features to pool areas; the creation of Serenity adults-only deck areas; fully remodeled staterooms and suites, complete with new baths and flat-screen TVs; and the addition of atrium lobby bars, coffee bars, miniature golf courses and multipurpose conference facilities.

This is the second of Carnival’s eight Fantasy Class ships, and she may be the most elegant of all of them. Architect Joe Farcus made an effort here to upgrade the design and tone down the style. The urbane result takes inspiration from the heyday of Cafe Society, with an extensive use of exotic woods, Italian marble, rich carpeting, tasteful fabrics, and a vintage Rolls-Royce on the double-width, bar-lined City Lights Boulevard promenade.

This Carnival cruise liner is a sassy, brassy 70,367-ton Panamanian-registered ship. With a length of 855, she cruises at 21 knots and has Italian officers, an international staff of 920, and a capacity of 2,052 passengers.

Ecstasy operates 4- and 5-day year-round cruises from Galveston, Texas, to Mexico, with stops in Cozumel with Progreso added on the 5-day trips. Both loops include two sea days. Shore excursions run the gamut from exploring ancient Mayan ruins to ATV rides on the beach to golf at various country clubs in the Caribbean.

The 14 elevators serve 10 passenger decks. The atrium rises seven decks to a skylight. Natural light floods the space by day, neon colors by night. The balconied showroom features fast-paced Vegas-style revues, and the entertainment is equally fast-paced in the lounges and cabaret. As expected, the disco rocks, while the library has minimal offerings. An added bonus of the Ecstasy is its Texan flavor, which guests can experience in everything from the food to the main theatrical show, a truly over-the-top country revue. There is a new Internet cafe.

ExteriorThe topmost deck features a rubberized jogging track. The huge spa is one deck down, and on the aft deck are a sunbathing area and a pool (one of three, including one with a waterslide), and two whirlpools. A secluded area serves topless sunbathers. Activities, from bingo to horse racing, newlywed games to singles parties, never stop, but at least one lounge is designed for those seeking quiet. Camp Carnival is the well-run children’s program.

Lido Deck includes a glass-walled cafeteria with indoor and outdoor dining near the pool area and its stage. Evenings, the casual Seaview Bistro serves dinner to those who do not want to dress for the two dining rooms. A new flexible dining program called “Your Choice Dining” provides the choice of Early assigned seating at 6 pm, Late assigned seating at 8:15 pm or open seating between 5:45 and 9 pm. Requests are made at the time of booking. The food is getting better, but many a waiter still seems to think he is a comedian. The piano bar sports vintage neon signs, huge lion-headed Foo dogs guard the Chinatown Lounge, which is meant to resemble a Far East street scene complete with a smoke-belching dragon.

Standard cabins (408 inside, 564 outside) average 190 sq ft and come with armchairs and matching stools, desk-dressers, flat-panel TVs, phones, radios, twin or queen beds, and showers. Only 54 cabins have balconies. Lower-priced cabins, insides with upper and lower berths, are much smaller than standards.

An Ecstasy cruise is most likely to bring ecstasy to those willing to go with the flow and mingle with big, big crowds. The short itinerary is especially appealing to young professionals who want to make the most of limited vacation time; most guests live close enough to the Port of Galveston to travel to the ship by car. Carnival also does an excellent job of catering to young singles who fill the nightclubs and flirt away at singles mixers. The younger set seems to attract an interesting cruising demographic: groups of young men enjoying a few days of sun, golf and not having to worry about who’s the designated driver. You might want to think of it as the male counterpart to a girlfriend getaway.

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